Romania Update

  • Dec. 2, 2014
  • #8502

Listen to Joni share about our ministry to the people of Romania ...

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and welcome to Joni and Friends.

Not long ago I had the pleasure of speaking to a large group of Romanian Christians in Southern California down in Orange County.  When I wheeled into the church and — oh my goodness — I felt like I was back in Romania in the early 1980s and 1990s: men on one side of the church and women sitting on the other, and lots of grandmothers wearing scarves.  The balcony in the back was all full. It just looks so, Eastern European! And it was. As I shared my story with the congregation, the pastor stood next to me translating my words. Even the hymns were sung in Romanian. It was such a heartwarming time for Ken and me.

Because you see, our first visit to Romania was in 1982 when the cruel dictator Ceausescu was in control. We went there under the auspices of the American Embassy, but even though the Romanian government watched our every move, thankfully, I was allowed to speak in many churches. But a lot of their time was spent trying to visit hospitals and rehabilitation centers where we could meet people with disabilities. The American Embassy tried its best to help us get into all these facilities, but we were allowed into only a select few (and no, I might add, orphanages for disabled children). In fact, despite the small handful of people in wheelchairs we saw in one rehab center, the Romanian government insisted that there were no people with disabilities in their country. "Disabilities only happen in other nations," they told us. That, we could not believe. And, less than 10 years later in 1990, after Ceausescu was deposed, ABC News broke the story about the desperate plight of Romanian orphans with disabilities. And that, in turn, took us back to Romania the following year in 1991 with hundreds of wheelchairs and medical supplies. And we’ve been going back ever since.

As I shared all this just recently in that Romanian church down in Orange County, people openly wept in the congregation. Some of the — the older ones — had been in Romania during our first visit in 1982; they remembered hearing me speak in those churches. And together we rejoiced at all that God has done in that country since then. I went on to tell that church exactly what God has done among the disabled in Romania. We have held countless Wheels for the World outreaches there, distributing wheelchairs and Bibles, and bringing many to Christ. We have trained scores of churches in disability ministry, especially to Romanian Gypsies with disabilities. We even helped in the formation of the first Disability Federation in that country. Plus, we are now holding international Family Retreats every summer throughout Romania where special-needs families can hear about Jesus, and our Cause 4 Life interns are serving in orphanages and schools there. Best of all, this week in December, we are introducing our Beyond Suffering curriculum in evangelical seminaries in three Romanian cities.

As I shared all this in that Romanian church in Orange County, there were more tears: tears of gratitude to God. Proverbs 29 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, (that’s what happens under a dictator), but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Wow!  Today, join me in praising God for the freedoms the Romanian people now enjoy, and ask him to use Joni and Friends to bring many more people with disabilities in that great country to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

© Joni and Friends

 

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